Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Pan Fried Salmon With Coconut Sauce

This is a re-post with a small change. I chose to leave out the cardamom in the first post as I didn't have any on hand.. I made the dish without it and my friend Loudon told me he he made the dish with it. He says it turned out too bitter, so it's probably better off without it. Mine worked out fine. Lesson learned, make sure the recipe works on my palate before anyone else try's it, at least with a curry recipe. :)


Two of my most favorite things: salmon and coconut. I eat more salmon than coconut, mainly because I love a good coconut cream pie more than anything and I would be as big as a house if I ate more coconut than salmon, but I have decided to start eating more coconut in different capacities, such as this dish. Taking something healthy and tasty like salmon and mixing it with something healthy and tasty like coconut is a win-win situation. But until recently, I never realized how good coconut (in all of it's different states) really is for you, so now knowing this, I will make the effort to add more to our diet.

A Coconut tree (or palm) is actually called "The Tree Of Life" where they grow as they are a main staple in peoples diets and economies in certain parts of the world. The coconut is a nut from the tree which offers a good source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. Besides the meat, it also offers up coconut oil, which I just figured out. The oil is considered to the cure to all illness. Good enough for me, so now I'll start using it!

Salmon, on the other hand, is good for us as we all know. I only eat the wild salmon now as farmed doesn't offer the same health benefits as wild. When it comes to healthy eating, salmon is one of the best things to add to your diet. It is full of vitamins and minerals and should be a staple in your diet. We like to eat it once every week or two, which is why I am always looking to cook it as many different ways as I can and also try to add other healthy, flavorful ingredients to it. This is the ideology of why I started to write this blog, to help people understand healthy eating doesn't have to mean eating bland, tasteless food. Flavor can coexist with a healthy diet.

Over the years, I have ate and cooked salmon in different dishes from different cultures. The one I have always kind of shied away from was East Indian. Not sure why, but I did. I have seen salmon cooked with curry, but never tried it. I have eaten smoked salmon in a rose`sauce with fettuccine at an Italian restaurant in Brampton, Ont. and later made it the same way myself, but that's as exotic as I have been with it. I figured it was time to venture out there and try a little Indian with possibly a little more of a southern Asian influence with it. Couldn't hurt. Hence the coconut sauce was born.

There are a few recipes out there like this one, but the idea behind it is to make people understand that coconut has more uses to it than that woooonderful cream pie most people associate it with or in a cookie. I did some research and if you're cooking with coconut, you may as well try a little coconut oil to go along with it. The health benefits have a big upside as the oil contains less calories than other oils and the fat in it is easily converted to energy. Also, it doesn't make your heart or arteries accumulate any fat in them. Sold yet?  Alright, here's a little more info: it helps the inside of your body as well as the outside. There you go. A total body makeover if you use it frequently!

Ingredients

Coconut Sauce

- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tbs mustard seeds
- 1 tbs fenugreek seeds
- 1/2 tbs coriander seeds
- 1 tbs finely chopped or grated ginger
- 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1 cup coconut milk

Salmon


- 2 tbs coconut oil
- 2 (6 oz) salmon fillets
- 1/2 tsp coriander powder
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

Coconut Sauce

1. Grind seeds in a mortar and pestle. Do this until it becomes a powder.


As you can see here, I gave up on the mortar and went with my coffee grinder which acts as a spice grinder. I didn't realize how late it was, then figured I better hustle it up.


2. Put coconut oil into a large skillet over medium-low heat. When the oil is hot, add the ginger. Saute for 30 seconds and then add the spices. Let cook for 10-20 seconds just to season the oil.


3. Add tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes. Stir frequently as you want the tomatoes to start to break down a little.
4. Pour in coconut milk and simmer for about 15 minutes, until sauce is thickened. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper.

 

Salmon

1. Heat coconut oil in a non-stick skillet or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Season salmon fillets with 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder and a pinch of salt and pepper.

2. When the oil is hot, sear the salmon on each side for 7 to 8 minutes, until they are just cooked through.
3. Put salmon on a plate, pour a little sauce over top and serve.

I chose to serve this dish over basmati rice with peas.

Tips: Adding salt at the end of the sauce preparation is extremely important. It really helps bring out the flavors. This dish could also be served with spaghetti squash. If there is anything you think would go nicely with this as a side, try it. Be resourceful and don't be scared to try something new.

I really liked this dish, but the next time I make it I will start the salmon on the stove for a minute or so, and finish it in the oven. This way the fish will be cooked in a more gentle manner using indirect heat. This will yield a nicer, not quite as firm serving of fish.

Little O's Menu

We've come to a stalemate, almost, for the first time with her. She just wants to eat raspberries, blueberries, the odd piece of apple without the skin or toast with jam or almond butter for breakfast. She is backing off from the oatmeal a little bit, but still likes to have it before bed. I think it fills her up and she sleeps a lot better, right through the night actually (and the crowd rejoices... yay)!

We are going to try to get her back on the path to vegetables again. Carrots, broccoli, yams, even tomatoes. She has turned her back on these, but we hope she will reconsider soon. They are all extremely healthy for her, so we won't give in that easily!

Restaurant Review

A couple of weeks ago, I was in a squash tournament. I forgot to talk about what the free Friday night dinner was which they offered to the players. Bankers Hall is a two-tower office building(s) which houses, among many other things, The Bankers Hall Club. Below the club are two floors of food courts and restaurants. One of those places is the Orchid Room, a nice little fusion restaurant combining Vietnamese, Thai and French influences. I had not been given the chance to eat there yet, so I was really looking forward to the meal. The choices they offered were deep fried spring rolls or salad rolls as a starter, and the mains were a choice of chicken, beef or vegetarian vermicelli bowl, or a chicken or vegetarian pad thai. I chose the salad rolls and the chicken vermicelli bowl and shared them with Mrs. Urban Eater. Even O had a little bit. It was as good as I expected it to be and we could barely finish it all. I will now make the effort to go there at least once a month. If you happen to be in downtown Calgary, give the Orchid Room a try. You won't regret it.

Quote of the day:

"Let me pose you a question. Can farm-raised salmon be organic when it's feed has nothing to do with it's natural diet, even if the feed itself is supposedly organic, and the fish themselves are tightly packed in pens swimming in their own filth?"

- Mark Bittman, American food journalist and author

Until next time, good eating everyone.

Mark

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